State Budget Cuts May Include Layoffs

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(Host) The Dean administration is putting together a plan to cut roughly $30 million from the new state budget. Administration Secretary Kathy Hoyt says it’s possible the proposal could include layoffs in the state’s workforce.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Later this week, the State’s Emergency Board will meet to make a downward revision in Vermont’s revenue estimate for the new fiscal year. The move is needed because the state did not meet its revenue targets for the fiscal year that ended on June 30.

Administration Secretary Kathy Hoyt says that it’s likely that the new estimate will be $30 million lower than the projections used by the Legislature to determine the size of the new state budget. This means $30 million will have to been cut from that budget. Lawmakers gave the governor expanded authority to make these cuts and the administration is expected to release a draft plan by the end of this month.

Last summer, the administration implemented a series of budget cuts by imposing across the board reductions in many departments of state government. Hoyt says it’s unlikely that this approach will be used again. Instead, whole programs may be eliminated:

(Hoyt) “What we need for departments to do is look at the most efficient ways that they can accomplish the goals of their department. And they may have to put some priority on what functions and programs are the most important and which ones maybe should be reconsidered. This is a time to step back and try to look structurally at how we do things an to do them better in order to save some money.”

(Kinzel) Hoyt says she hopes that a budget reduction plan can be put into place that will not result in jobs cuts for state employees. But she says this goal will be very difficult to achieve:

(Hoyt) “We will be miracle workers if we can come out of all of this without a single layoff. I know the governor would like very much for that to be the outcome, but given the amount of money . If we see some efficiencies and we see some programs that are not the most important ones, and the Legislature agrees with us that there should be some cuts in those directions, that there might be some.”

(Kinzel) The administration is working with the Vermont State Employees Union in an effort to find some budget cuts that will not result in job reductions.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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